Peter Shelton: A Thing You Bump Into

July 16 - August 31, 2019
Palm Desert, CA


This virtual exhibition brings together works by American sculptor, Peter Shelton. The group of works provide a glimpse into Shelton’s process and a distillation of both his style and his attitude to sculpture.

Peter Shelton was born in 1951 in Troy, Ohio. While at studying for an MFA at UCLA, Shelton began what would be a hallmark of his object-making process – producing large scale sculptures which combine anthropomorphic forms with completely abstract elements. Working in a diverse range of media, including metals, glass, cement, water, paint, and fiberglass, his witty and considerate works surprise viewers and insist on closer examination such as a comically elongated goatee (whitebeard).

The virtual exhibition’s title originates from Peter Shelton’s description of sculpture , as something in which to relate the object’s materiality with the viewer’s materiality. In this way, the title represents an ideological approach to his work. On one level, it is playful reading of Shelton’s artwork titles in which words run together. On another, it represents how a viewer comes across his sculptures where subject, objects, and concepts collide to create surprising encounters. As Shelton says, “I like to think of my work as a threshold between in and out, object and space, heavy and light.”

Shelton’s sculptures encompass figurative and abstract qualities so that what may appear to be a cartoonishly enlarged shirt could conceivably be a black abstract form (onelongsleeve), as if part of a Motherwell painting has been made three dimensional. Shelton’s sculptures exist at the junction of silhouette, surface, materiality, and sociocultural context. This selection of works gives viewers a starting point into the irreverent and thoughtful world of Peter Shelton.

Did you know… that Peter Shelton was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989? Other artists awarded the fellowship include Carl Andre, Susan Rothenberg, and Ed Moses.